Graduate schemes versus graduate jobs: what's the difference?
If you're currently at university, it's likely you've been asked whether you're planning to apply for graduate schemes, grad jobs or entry level roles after you graduate. With the world of work being somewhat alien to you at this point, we wouldn't blame you for not knowing the difference yet.
Although all of these routes can lead to strong and fulfilling careers, it helps to understand their application processes, structures and progression opportunities ahead of your graduate job search.
What is a graduate scheme?
Graduate schemes are structured training programmes, designed specifically for university graduates. They tend to last between one to three years but can last up to six for some specialisms, like law. Typically, you'll join a specific division of a company, such as marketing, or HR. However, you'll spend time in different departments to get a better understanding of how the business operates.
Graduate schemes are generally awarded to those with a 2:1 or higher. However, many employers are becoming increasingly flexible with this criteria.
The application processes can be lengthy and tend to involve face-to-face interviews, assessments and psychometric tests. There are limited spaces offered within each company, so start your search while you're still at University.
Graduate schemes are designed to give you a high level understanding of the industry, first-hand experience and the opportunity to build on your key skills.
Graduate programmes are highly competitive because not only will you have access to specialist training in a high profile company, but they also help you stand out from other candidates.
Employers are known to pay graduates on their grad schemes exceptionally well. Many top graduate schemes offer a starting salary of more than £40,000 per annum.
What is a graduate job?
Many people get confused by the difference between an entry level job and a graduate job.
Graduate schemes to run for a set period and have a fixed window for when you can apply to them. Graduate jobs are available all year round and are permanent roles. Employers normally offer a limited number of places but they may hire graduates for other positions in the business.
While graduate jobs tend to be less structured than a scheme, you may still be partial to training opportunities (depending on what your employer offers) and it's likely you'll have a manager to mentor you. The work is likely to be more flexible and fairly hands-on. Therefore, you'll still get valuable experience and be able to build upon key industry skills.